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Robert's Rules of Order/Misc 2

This Manual is prepared to partially meet this want in deliberative assemblies that are not legislative in their character. It has been made sufficiently complete to answer for the rules of an assembly, until they see fit to adopt special rules conflicting with and superseding any of its rules of detail, such as the Order of Business [§44], etc. Even in matters of detail the practice of Congress is followed, wherever it is not manifestly unsuited to ordinary assemblies, and in such cases, in Part I, there will be found, in a foot note, the Congressional practice. In the important matters referred to above, in which the practice of the House of Representatives settles the common parliamentary law of the country, this Manual strictly conforms to such practice.[1]

The Manual is divided into two distinct parts, each complete in itself. (The table at the end contains a large amount of information in a tabular form, for easy reference in the midst of the business of a meeting.)

Part I contains a set of Rules of Order systematically arranged, as shown in the Table of Contents. Each one of the forty-five sections is complete in itself, so that no one unfamiliar with the work can be misled in examining any particular subject. Cross references are freely used to save repeating

from other sections, and by this means the reader, without using the index, is referred to everything in the Rules of Order that has any bearing upon the subject he is investigating. The references are by sections, and for convenience the numbers of the sections are placed at the top of each page. The motions are arranged under the usual classes, in their order of rank, but in the index under the word motion will be found an alphabetical list of all the motions generally used. In reference to each motion there is stated:

  1. Of what motions it takes precedence (that is, what motions may, be pending, and yet it be in order to make this motion).
  2. To what motions it yields (that is, what motions may be made while this motion is pending).
  3. Whether it is debatable or not.
  4. Whether it can be amended or not.
  5. In case the motion can have no subsidiary motion applied to it, the fact is stated [see Adjourn, Sec. 11, for an example: the meaning is, that the particular motion to adjourn, for example, cannot be laid on the table, postponed, committed or amended].
  6. The effect of the motion if adopted.
  7. The form of stating the question when peculiar, and whatever other information is necessary to enable one to understand the question.

Part II. While the second part covers the entire ground of the first part, it does so in a much simpler manner, being intended for those who have no acquaintance with the usages of deliberative assemblies. It also explains the method of organizing an assembly or society, and conducting a meeting. The motions are treated on an entirely different plan, being classified according to the objects for which they are used, and those of each class compared together so that the reader may obtain the best motion for the accomplishment of any given object. It omits the complications of parliamentary law, and has but few references to the rules of Congress, or those in this Manual. In order to make it complete in itself, it was necessary to repeat a few pages from the first part.


  1. On account of the party lines being so strictly drawn in Congress, no such thing as harmony of action is possible, and it has been found best to give a bare majority in the House of Representatives (but not in the Senate) the power to take final action upon a question without allowing of any discussion. In ordinary societies more regard should be paid to the rights of the minority, and a two-thirds vote be required, as in this Manual [§39], for sustaining an objection to the introduction of a question, or for adopting a motion for the Previous Question, or for adopting an order closing or limiting debate. In this respect the policy of the Pocket Manual is a mean between those of the House and Senate. But some societies will doubtless find it advantageous to follow the practice of the H. R., and others will prefer that of the Senate. It requires a majority, according to the Pocket Manual, to order the yeas and nays, which is doubtless best in the majority of assemblies; but in all bodies in which the members are responsible to their constituents, a much smaller number should have this power. In Congress it requires but a one-fifth vote, and in some bodies a single member can require a vote to be taken by yeas and nays. Any society adopting this Manual, should make its rules govern them in all cases to which they are applicable, and in which they are not inconsistent with the By-Laws and Rules of Order of the society. Their own rules should include all of the cases where it is desirable to vary from the rules in the Manual, and especially should provide for a Quorum [§43], and an Order of Business [§44], as suggested in these rules.